Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert top defender for the third time

Jun 8, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) blocks the shot by LA Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr. (8) at the buzzer to end the game during game one in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a key defensive play in a victory to open a Western Conference semifinal series, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday.

Gobert became the fourth player to earn the honor at least three times, joining Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace, who it won four times, and Dwight Howard, who is another three-time winner.

Gobert also won the award during the 2017-18 season and in the 2018-19 campaign. Out of the 100 sportswriters and broadcasters who voted, the 28-year-old Gobert received 84 first-place votes and 464 points.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons was second with 287 points and 15 first-place votes. The Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green, who won the award after the 2016-17 season, was third with 76 points. A first-place vote was worth five points, with three for a second-place vote and one for third.

Gobert averaged 13.5 rebounds per game and led the NBA with 10.1 defensive rebounds per game. He also led the league with 190 blocked shots and was second in blocks per game at 2.7.

With the Jazz clinging to a 112-109 lead in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, Gobert blocked a last-second 3-point attempt by Marcus Morris Sr. to seal the victory. Voting was based on regular-season performances only.

In a March 14 game against the Warriors, Gobert grabbed 28 rebounds to set a season-high, and during a March 22 game against the Chicago Bulls, he blocked nine shots to set a career-high in the category.

With Gobert taking up space in the middle of the lane with his size and length, the Jazz was third in the NBA this season in defensive rating at 107.5. and second in opponents’ field-goal percentage at 44.7.

The Jazz were the only team in the NBA’s regular season in the top five in both points scored (116.4) and points allowed (107.7).

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